Date of Award

5-2005

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Political Science

Major Professor

David H. Folz

Committee Members

Michael R. Fitzgerald, William Lyons, Bruce E. Tonn

Abstract

This research investigates the factors that affect municipal use of and the impacts they experience with performance measures among mid-sizedU.S.cities. The goal of this research project is to advance our knowledge about the adoption, use, and impact of performance measures among mid-sized cities. Several research questions were developed and a mail survey was administered to 670 city officials in cities with populations 25,000 to 250,000 in order to help provide answers to these questions. A total of 280 completed surveys were returned for a response rate of about 42 percent.

Among the chief findings of this study are that larger mid-sized cities are more likely to adopt and use performance measures. Performance measures also are more likely to be adopted and used by cities that have a council-manager form of government rather than by cities with a mayor-council form of government.

The performance results expected to be achieved by municipal officials respondents corresponded with the three reasons that local officials cited as being most important for adopting. Analysis indicated that there is very little, if any, “cognitive dissonance” with respect to the reasons offered for adopting performance measures and what local officials expected to see as a result of their implementation.

The study’s findings suggest that local officials in mid-sized cities believe that performance measures have real value for improving the quality of management and budget decisions. Moreover, they think that the information generated by these measures helps their cities to respond to citizen demands for greater accountability. In addition, many local officials believe that the use of performance measures has helped to improve the quality of communications with citizens about how well the city performs its service responsibilities.

Performance measures tend to be used more extensively when managers are the primary audience for performance data, when their staff has data analysis talent and when council understands performance information and provides adequate financial support for collecting performance data.

This study finds that support by government stakeholder groups, particularly department heads, line supervisors and city employees, local elected officials, particularly city council members, and citizens and community interest group leaders are especially important in terms of whether performance measures are likely to be perceived as having a significant positive impact on the local decision making process.

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